Peppy Living

Peppy Living for the Eco-Anxious

Month: December 2012

raw chocolate

Raw Chocolate

Chocolate is healthy and extremely good for you. That’s the news I’ve longed to hear all my life. Cocoa has 10 times more antioxidants than blueberries and tons of feel good ingredients, so it’s no myth that eating chocolate makes you feel good. The trick is to prepare it raw, that means without heating it above +45C degrees.

I had to try this.

Ingredients:

  • 250g Cacao butter
  • 250g Cacao powder
  • 250g Agave nectar
  • 7g Pure raw vanilla powder
  • Goji berries
  • Raw, unsalted cashew nuts

raw chocolate

I bought a kit with all the ingredients from Amazon, which was not cheap, so this ended up being probably the most expensive chocolate I’ve ever had. However, I’m sure this stuff can be made cheaper, when bought separately. This is a huge batch, so just half of the recipe will get you plenty to munch.

raw chocolate

First I chopped the cacao butter as finely as I could and placed it in jug. I heated some water and put the jug in the water. Now this is the tricky part. The water must not be hotter than 45C, which is enough to melt the cacao butter, but it will take time. I needed to up the heat in the pan, as the water temperature fell to about 35C and the butter stopped melting.

raw chocolate

Once the cacao butter had completely melted I whisked the vanilla powder in. Once it had completely dissolved into the butter, I added the cacao powder, while constantly whisking the butter.

raw chocolate

Finally I added the agave nectar. Agave nectar is a sweet syrup that comes from the same plant that tequila is made of (nice bit of trivia there). It is a much healthier alternative to sugars and syrups and a bit lighter in texture than honey. Adding the agave nectar makes the chocolate quite thick and difficult to whisk. It needs good work to get mixed properly. Keep the mix in the warm water, as the chocolate starts to set very quickly.

Look at that, that’s proper chocolate!

raw chocolate

I got these pretty chocolate moulds, but you can use any silicon moulds, such as ice cube trays. I added some chopped nuts and goji berries to some of them.

raw chocloate

In goes the chocolate. This is messy stuff, and the chocolate is quite stiff, so it doesn’t simply pour in. I used two spoons to get it in.

raw chocolate

I had much more chocolate than molds, so I improvised and put some dollops on a baking tray. These turned out really cute. I then decorated them with walnuts, hazelnuts and cranberries.

raw chocolate

The chocolates set quite quickly on their own. You can also pop them in the fridge or a freezer. Once they have hardened just take the molds off and enjoy.

Raw chocolate is quite powdery in texture, so it doesn’t have that rich melt-in-your-mouth feel to it. But it has a lovely chocolate flavour to it and is very satisfying. Knowing that this is good for me raw chocolate is a wonderful treat, and just a couple will do the trick – no need to eat half a tray! These will also make a nice last minute Christmas present.

raw chocolate

Aww… isn’t that cute.

stuffed peppers

Stuffed Peppers

I like stuffing, clearly, but you can rarely go wrong with stuffing so here is another one. Peppers are easy to stuff as they don’t need all that hollowing-out-work. Simply fill and bake. I filled these bad boys with fennel and goats cheese. You can also try the lentil filling that I used for stuffed squash or the tomato filling from the stuffed courgette recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 peppers
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 100g soft goats cheese
  • Ground black pepper
  • Fresh basil

 

stuffed peppersYou can use any coloured peppers you wish. I used one of each. Green peppers are great for baking, as they can be a bit bitter when eaten raw.

stuffed peppers

Chop fennels, garlic and onion and season with black pepper. Massage the goats cheese into the vegetables until they make a nice paste. Brush the peppers with a bit of avocado oil and fill them with the goats cheese mixture. Bake in 175C for 15-20 minutes.

stuffed peppers

Garnish with black pepper and chopped fresh basil. I served them with root vegetable mash.

borscht soup

Ruby Red Borscht Soup

Borscht is a fantastic winter soup. Just looking at those radiant colours of the ingredients make me feel like I’m pumped with iron and other veggie goodness. The ingredients cost next to nothing and the soup is absolutely delicious. Again, this is a vegetarian version of the recipe, but you can add sausages (I’d use  frankfurters) or some non- lean meat (you want it to be very tender). A dollop of sour cream is also optional, but this is an incredibly lean soup to begin with and the cream makes it so much nicer, that I wouldn’t miss it for the world. And it does turn the soup into a very cute shade of pink!

Ingredients:

  • 4 raw beetroots
  • Half a cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1-1.5l of stock (beef or vegetable)
  • 1.5 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of sour cream per serving

 

borscht soup

These ingredients are pretty enough for  a still life painting, don’t you think? I’m inspired.

borscht soup

Chop everything. I used a mandoline for the beets and carrots to get pretty evenly sized pieces, but knife is just as good.

borscht soup

 Briefly fry the chopped vegetables in butter, then add stock and cook for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add vinegar.

borscht soup

Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Store any leftovers as this soup is even better the next day.

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